Head start on driver­less cars


New Zealand could have a head start in switch­ing to driver­less elec­tric ve­hi­cles be­cause there is no law here re­quir­ing cars to have a driver, KPMG says.

How­ever, the con­sul­tancy said, a lack of charg­ing sta­tions, patchy ru­ral 4G mo­bile cov­er­age and medi­ocre roads – along with the ab­sence of any lo­cal in­dus­try cham­pi­oning au­ton­o­mous elec­tric ve­hi­cle (AVs) – could hold us back.

KPMG’s global in­fra­struc­ture di­rec­tor, Richard Threlfall, said the world was on the cusp of a trans­port rev­o­lu­tion that would ‘‘trans­form our lives’’.

‘‘It will mean for the first time in his­tory, mo­bil­ity free­dom will be avail­able for every­one.’’

Over­all, KPMG ranked New Zealand ninth on a list of 20 coun­tries for ‘‘AV pre­pared­ness’’ – be­hind the United States, Bri­tain and Ger­many but ahead of Aus­tralia and Ja­pan.

The re­port scored New Zealand sec­ond be­hind Sin­ga­pore for its le­gal and pol­icy frame­work.

‘‘New Zealand has a strong rep­u­ta­tion as a tech­nol­ogy test-bed and con­sumers that are rel­a­tively ac­cept­ing of new tech­nolo­gies,’’ it said.

But Welling­ton-based KPMG di­rec­tor Ist­van Csorogi said AVs would bring ma­jor chal­lenges, and roads and cities would need to be built with AVs in mind.

‘‘In­fra­struc­ture is a big is­sue in New Zealand – we need to in­vest in trans­port and mo­bile com­mu­ni­ca­tions to ad­dress some of the is­sues,’’ he said.

Fast data net­works and good roads would be nec­es­sary for driver­less cars to travel safely.

Although fully au­ton­o­mous ve­hi­cles are still at the trial stage world­wide, there are signs that peo­ple-driven elec­tric ve­hi­cles (EVs) are catch­ing on faster in New Zealand.

EV num­bers reached 6603 in Jan­uary, up nearly 400 in a month, ac­cord­ing to the Min­istry of Trans­port.

Nigel Broom­field, the chief ex­ec­u­tive of Auck­land com­pany Charge­mas­ter, which sells EV charg­ing equip­ment, said that in 2017 the growth of EVs was 50 per cent faster in New Zealand than in Europe, though that was off a lower base.

Xero chief ex­ec­u­tive Rod Drury ques­tioned in Septem­ber whether pol­i­cy­mak­ers should be try­ing to make Welling­ton the ‘‘right-hand-drive au­ton­o­mous ve­hi­cle cap­i­tal’’ of the world.

He said then that could be one of the goals con­sid­ered by a new na­tional chief tech­nol­ogy of­fi­cer promised by the Govern­ment.


KPMG says driver­less cars could vastly re­duce the num­ber of car ac­ci­dents, lift pro­duc­tiv­ity and raise our qual­ity of life.

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